After a very nerve-wracking and frustrating first leg where Arsenal fans had to watch every possible chance created not find the back of the net albeit one, Mikel Arteta’s side showed what it really meant to them in the second leg away from home as they scored four past Slavia Prague, who they comfortably let dominate for periods of the game.
It took a while for the game to pick up momentum, and Arsenal seemed comfortable with Slavia Prague having a good chunk of the possession, until Arsenal’s first threatening counter-attack.
Bukayo Saka carried the ball down the wing and cut into the box, only for his curling effort to bounce off the post, but Emile Smith-Rowe was there for the rebound. Unfortunately, after a few minutes of checking, the goal was ruled off for offside.
Arsenal’s drive and determination hadn’t disappeared as minutes later, after some brilliant footwork in the box from Smith-Rowe, Nicolas Pepe received the ball in front of goal and calmly chipped the ball over Ondrej Kolar and the Gunners were 1-2 up on aggregate.
Minutes later, Arsenal received a penalty after Bukayo Saka looked to get taken down in the box. Arsenal captain Alexandre Lacazette, who had converted from the penalty spot in the Premier League on Sunday, struck the ball into the back of the net to give the Gunners yet another advantage.
Arsenal’s goals for the first half had not finished there, as following another counter-attack, Calum Chambers found the run of Saka, and his teammate struck the ball effortlessly from the outside the box and into the back of the net.
The home side’s closest chance of the half came in the 37th minute where Peter Olayinka’s high ball over the top of the defence was met by Alexander Bah who pulled it back for the striker, who struck his close-range effort over the bar by quite a distance.
The second half was very quiet compared to the first, and Arsenal seemed very comfortable sitting deep and allowing Slavia Prague to have a lot of the ball.
The Gunners scored their fourth in the 77th minutes after Saka found Pepe down the right-wing, who then squared it to Lacazette whose powerful shot could not have been stopped by Kolar and the Gunners were comfortably on their way through to the semi-finals of this campaign.
Arsenal substitute Gabriel Martinelli almost made it five on the night after a brilliant effort down the left-wing to run and cut into the box, but his effort from an angle went wide of the post.
Plenty of positive talking points from a goal-fest for the Gunners, read my thoughts on the game below…
- We took our chances
Unlike in last week’s first leg, where every shot either went wide or hit the woodwork, Arsenal’s shot on goal/goal scored ratio was much more positive. Out of seven shots on goal, four out of the five that were on target hit the back of the net.
The team were more confident and composed in front of goal compared to the first leg, and you can tell how much it meant to them to win this game to progress into the competition.
The three goals scored in the first half came within six minutes of each other, and Slavia Prague had certainly given up by that point, as there was no intent and drive to get forward and they created limited chances in front of goal, keeping Bernd Leno very quiet in goal for the full 90 minutes.
The possession stats prove that Arsenal comfortably allowed the home side to dominate, because every time Arsenal did get hold of the ball, the ball would be carried forward into the final third and the next thing you know, It was probably in the back of the net.
Slavia had 61% of the possession, completed more accurate passes and had a slightly higher pass success, but with Arsenal’s confidence in front of goal and clinical finishing, those stats will be overlooked as although the home side had more of the ball, there was no drive or desire to get forward and score goals.
Despite the possession stat, Arsenal successfully completed more dribbles and tackles compared to Jindrich Trpisovsky’s side, which immediately shows that Arsenal were more determined to get a result out of this game.
If Arsenal want to make it to the final of the Europa League, they will need to be clinical in front of goal and take every chance possible as they look to face former Arsenal manager Unai Emery’s side Villarreal – who also like to take their chances regularly and score goals.